Walking in Memphis…

One of my favorite things is to speak to garden clubs. These ladies are a treasure trove for garnering a fine education on Southern culture, fine entertaining, fabulous cooking, and, of course, honing one’s gardening prowess. Many of the groups are a part of the Garden Club of America which is an amazing organization.
I started speaking to garden clubs when I was at Auburn, and I attribute my career’s start to my garden club patrons. The ink was hardly dry on my diploma before my garden club contacts began hiring me for garden and interior projects – that’s my kind of social networking!


Often, the groups meet in a member’s home. If the group is larger, then a country club, community center or church becomes the venue, but I relish the opportunities to speak in someone’s home.
As a lover of beauty, lovely homes and gardens, and nostalgic nods to Southern entertaining, these garden club visits are quite a perk. And, being surrounded and doted on by fine ladies is not bad either!
Primarily, I have spoken to garden clubs in the Deep South, but also in St. Louis, Missouri such as The Ladue Garden Club - and groups in Virginia. These Down Home Dixie groups are such a treat for me to visit and give a lesson on flower arranging, gardening trends, tablescapes and even cooking. From small towns to Southern cities, these ladies ask me to speak to them and teach them, but I’m the one learning! I relish in learning how these ladies (who often are a tad older than my junior) garden, cook and entertain. My latest trip was of no exception!

I have had the pleasure and honor of speaking to garden clubs in Memphis three separate occasions. First, to the Memphis Garden Club and most recently to The Little Garden Club of Memphis. The second time was a combination of the two groups. This latest trip proved to be a delightful time of food, flowers, book signings, food, garden lectures, fellowship, food and some more food. Let me tell you, Memphis doesn’t play around when it comes to food – this Farmer was extremely well fed and probably gained some serious poundage on this trip. Memphis is more than ribs and bbq, ya’ll!
I have to state the old adage that “it sure is a small world.” Yes, any Southerner worth their grits is going to make their familial and social connection in other Southern towns, but Memphis proved to be a delightfully small world!

First connection was Alpine. Alpine Camp for Boys in Mentone, Alabama, proved to be a summer job to garner a lifetime of connections. Many Memphis boys have camped and worked at Alpine. The host home where I stayed was the home of one of my campers. That’s Alpine for you - connections! I saw a picture of the now grown camper and asked my my hostess, “How do you know…as she exclaimed ‘He’s my son!’” What a time!

Secondly, Auburn came into play. Whether it was seeing friends from school, meeting friends’ parents or sharing Auburn memories, Auburn always paves the way in making the world a bit smaller.

But another amazing connection came into play while in Memphis – Bainbridge. My Mimi’s hometown is always finding some way into the conversation and this time proved notwithstanding. Another one of my hostesses was from Tallahassee, Florida, and her sister married a boy from Bainbridge –and they are dear friends with my Aunt Sally there. 
That, my friends, is what I love about the South – we share this tightly knitted culture and form ever-lasting bonds with one another over great-aunts, fried chicken, silver patterns and flowers!

From a dinner party of chicken curry surrounded by friends, to garden and floral arranging lectures, to a luncheon of fried chicken and amazing peach ice cream with pecan shortbread, to memorable moments with new and old friends alike – my latest walking in Memphis truly felt “ten feet over Beale” and I cannot wait to visit again.

Hope to see ya’ll at Garden Club soon!